COHIBA Cigars and Milestone Anniversaries
By: Mercy Ramos / Photos: José Meriño and courtesy of the interviewee
To say ‘Cohiba’ is to refer to one of the best Habano cigars, and 2016 marks half a century since its creation. But 2016 also marks another more personal cigar-related anniversary. Petra Yolanda, renowned cigar roller, will also be celebrating half a century in the trade in 2016.
For this highly experienced cigar roller, it is an honor that her her fiftieth anniversary in the industry coincides with that of the flagship brand. Moreover Petra was the first woman cigar roller to give presentations for Cohiba outside Cuba. In an exclusive interview with Cubaplus, Petra Yolanda Medina Gonzalez explained how she got into the world of tobacco, which was almost by chance. “I was a nursing student but I wasn’t doing well because I didn’t really like the profession; so when cigar making courses were offered close to my house I decided to take them, thinking I would do that until something better came along,” Petra said.
“However, little by little I fell in love with the tobacco world and found that it is my true passion, that’s why I say that if I were to be born again I would come into this world as a cigar roller, without a doubt.”
Currently making habanos at the Melia Habana Hotel in Havana, Petra Yolanda has traveled all over the world teaching cigar rolling and about cigar smoking along the way.
“I have participated in numerous fairs and special events in Europe, Asia and Latin America, but my greatest satisfaction comes from being the first Cuban woman cigar roller to have traveled to France (1974) to represent my country at an international exhibition,” she said.
Petra Yolanda speaks about her work with much passion and pride and it is with great dedication that she explains the world of tobacco and the steps involved in rolling a good habano to customers and anyone else who wants to know.
During her fifty years in the trade, she has made all kinds of cigars and even managed to set a Guinness world record in 1984 in Stuttgart, Germany, for the world’s longest smokable habano when she rolled one measuring 1.26m.
Petra Yolanda has participated in numerous competitions and has often won first place with the internationally recognized Pirámides cigar. According to Petra Yolanda, the important thing for this job is to enjoy what you are doing and to have good hands, the fundamental tools for rolling a cigar. “For me,” she concluded, “having devoted a lifetime to this trade, the most important thing is the satisfaction of knowing that when someone puffs a habano that I have made, I know that he is enjoying a high quality cigar.”